Children with disabilities feted at Christmas treat
Inspire to Empower Change Foundation, in collaboration with Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), Sanmerna Foundation, and a host of new sponsors, again brought smiles to scores of faces this year at its seventh annual Christmas treat for children with disabilities on Thursday.
The treat was held inside the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre in St Andrew — which is its usual location each year — and catered to children and some young adults with disabilities.
When the treat was first held seven years ago, it only managed to impact around 100 children. This year, over 300 children were feted, given gifts of all kinds, and made to feel happy.
The atmosphere inside the transportation centre was filled with live music and thrill on Thursday morning as the children played with each other and Santa Claus, as well as got their faces painted by clown, David Allen.
As she got her face painted by Allen, Nadinea Davis, a student of Randolph Lopez School of Hope, expressed how excited and how good she felt being a part of such an event. She shared that it was her second time attending the treat and expressed that she was keeping her fingers crossed and hoping somehow that she would receive the gift of a tablet for Christmas.
“This is my second time at this treat. I want a tablet for my Christmas; I also wish for long life and prosperity,” Davis said.
Inspire to Empower Change Foundation is the brainchild of employees of JUTC.
Co-founder of the foundation, Anita Atkinson-Deans, was excited to see how bubbly and upbeat the children were at the treat. She expressed gratitude to all the sponsors who helped to make the treat a success.
“We have the Sanmerna Foundation and we have new sponsors on board like Nation Choice, World Net, Royal Computers, Royal Jewellers and GraceKennedy. No amount of words can explain how we are feeling right now; strength to strength we are growing. I like the whole reception. I like how they feel happy and how they are so inclusive in what we do,” she expressed.
JUTC’s Corporate Communications Manager Kimberly Gardner said the company is very proud of the two members of the JUTC who conceptualised the initiative.
“The children have really been enjoying themselves; I saw them hugging Santa Claus. The sponsors came on board, and that goes to show that there is recognition of the disabled community,” she said.
Director of Sanmerna Foundation Robert White highlighted that because the children have disabilities, many people treat them badly and cause them to feel as though they’ve been forgotten.
“These kids look forward to us every single year for this Christmas treat. The first time it was held, seven years ago, we had only 100 kids; now, in our seventh year, we have over 300 children. During the COVID-19 pandemic we took the gifts to their house, and took pictures with them, and made Santa visit them. A staging like this costs over $2 million dollars with every foundation that joined together.
“These kids are sometimes forgotten. Some are not able to walk on their own and do certain things on their own because they have challenges. Sanmerna, Inspire to Empower Change, and other foundations saw it best to bring the Christmas treat to them. We do it every year right here inside the JUTC bus terminus. We give them that smile, we give them hope; there is nothing like when you can give a child hope. It brings tears of joy and joy to my heart just to see their reaction to the clown, face-painting, the gifts and the meals,” White said.
“As the Sanmerna Foundation motto says, ‘Always caring and giving a helping hand’. We’ll continue to do that,” White added.